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May 28th, 2023

auxiliary scholarship recipientsSouthwest Medical Center Auxiliary President Linda Staiger, left, and Scholarship Chairman Pam Hollar, right, congratulat Seward County Community College students Rebecca Ortiz and Manny Puentes for receiving $500 scholarships from the auxiliary Tuesday at the hospital. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Rebecca Ortiz and Manny Puentes are both seeking medical degrees at Seward County Community College.

“I’m a surgical technologist,” Ortiz said.

“I’m currently in the nursing program, the second year, for RN, and I’d like to continue my education as far as nursing goes,” Puentes said. “I’m interested in either being a nurse practitioner or an anesthesiologist. I still have a little time to decide, but I definitely want to keep going.”

Recently, the SCCC students were awarded scholarships of $500 each from the Southwest Medical Center Auxiliary group, and both were naturally pleased to get the extra money for their education.

“I don’t how to explain it,” Ortiz said. “It was just surprising. I was excited.”

“We have these aspirations to continue, and this is a great help to continue that education,” Puentes said.

The scholarships were presented to Ortiz and Puentes Tuesday morning at SWMC, and with the announcement coming near the beginning of the Christmas season, Puentes particularly said it was like receiving an early present.

“I’ve got this family member and this family member to think about for Christmas,” he said. “Money’s tight around this time especially, so this is a boost in that direction.”

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Puentes is the oldest child in his family, and with many siblings, money may seem to be a little tighter than with most families.

“My mom just had a baby,” he said. “She’s in her 40s. There’s a 23-year gap between me being 23 and the baby just a year old. It’s a big family.”

SWMC Auxiliary Scholarship Chairman Pam Hollar said both students travel for their education at SCCC.

“He’s from Plains, and Rebecca’s from Goodwell,” she said.

Auxiliary President Linda Staiger said the groups with SCCC Dean of Allied Health Suzanne Campbell to help determine who the scholarship recipients will be each year.

“She’s in charge of it there, and she and a committee choose the two people they think will continue their education, receive a degree in what they want and not drop out,” she said. “That’s something that’s important to them, and they make that choice. They’ve always done an excellent job, so we go with their choice. They know these students, and we don’t know these students. We just want to make sure the medical profession has some good students coming up that will be helpful.”

Hollar said one of the goals of the auxiliary is to provide scholarships each year, and this is where the money from membership dues goes.

“They go to straight to scholarship funds, so our membership numbers are important because that gives us more money to spend on scholarships,” she said.

Staiger said auxiliary membership is lower than it has been in previous years, and she explained where other funds come from and how they are used.

“Our other funds we get from the sale of items in our gift shop,” she said. “Those go to buy equipment for the hospital.”

Staiger said the auxiliary has similar goals for the scholarships to those of SCCC.

“One of the things we look for is people who live in Southwest Kansas who plan to make it better for us living here,” she said. “We look within our local community college. We don’t go elsewhere for scholarship applications.”